Today the Venice Paparazzi Spotlight shines on
Maureen Davis of the jump swing rockabilly band Maureen and The Mercury 5.
How many years in Venice?
I first moved to Venice in the mid-90s: lived in Mar Vista and off Abbot Kinney! I’ve taught at School of Rock in Santa Monica and for the last 8 years have been the Master Vocal Coach at School of Rock West L.A. and Venice. M&M5’s Alex and bassist Steve are also West-siders! (SIDE NOTE: I trained (4) students for the Broadway shows “School of Rock The Musical” and “Little Miss Sunshine” — and was featured on FOX News as a driving musical force in West L.A. )
Tell us about your music/band:
MAUREEN & THE MERCURY 5 (Catty Town / Rhythm Bomb Records) blend raging rockabilly, sultry blues, and toe tapping swing into a sound for fans of IMELDA MAY, BRIAN SETZER, AMY WINEHOUSE and even THE YEAH YEAH YEAHS. MAUREEN & THE MERCURY 5 have performed with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Dick Dale, Big Sandy and Deke Dickerson. Also, as lead singer I am a regularly featured performer with super groups comprised of members of Quiet Riot, Cheap Trick, Twisted Sister, & Kiss at the Ultimate Jam Night at the Whisky A Go Go (produced by Quiet Riot’s Chuck Wright) on the historic Sunset Strip.
Rockabilly Jump Swing, but we call it “RETRO NOUVEAU” — we can play rock, country and jazz venues because the musical crossover.
Your job in the band:
Lead singer, songwriter
What projects are your currently working on?
We’re workshopping a stage musical that features our songs and the talents of some wonderful Broadway-accredited actors! (I was in the original, TONY-winning cast of INTO THE WOODS with Bernadette Peters). We hope to present at Hollywood Fringe Festival 2019. We also continue to place songs in film and TV — M&M5’s silly country song “HE SAID SHE SAID” is featured in the 2019 Comedy Central film DEPORTED. Previously with my band THE FLUTTERBIES, I had two featured songs in the OSCAR-winning George Clooney film, THE DESCENDANTS: “FAITH IN RAIN” and “HUMMINGBIRD HEART.” I’m happy to add those credits to the 100s of soundtracks I’ve done over the years. And of course — writing, recording, performing all over the Pacific Northwest! Cartoonist, Adam Huntley (Angry Rooster), who designed the bands cover and Maureen’s image, was hired as principle artist on the first fully-animated horror film, starring Morena Baccarat because of the CD. He will be designing collectable comic book covers based on all M&M 5 original songs.
Past bands/ Albums recorded:
MAUREEN & THE MERCURY 5: The Keepin’ Kind — Swingtone Records Gimme Mo’ — Rhythm Bomb / Catty Town Records, THE FLUTTERBIES: The Flutterbies Featuring Maureen Davis – CD Baby
Chrissy Hynde, Bonnie Raitt, Amy Winehouse, Brian Setzer, Dusty Springfield
How did you get into it?
Momma was a Big Band singer and actress, and shared her love of the arts with me. This landed me on Broadway in the original cast of “Into the Woods” where I worked with my musical idols and learned respect, discipline and technique. All my life I’ve been a “rocker”, so when I got the chance to mix theatre & rock music into MAUREEN & THE MERCURY 5 I jumped! When I’m not playing music I’m sharing what I love about it with my students and helping them find themselves in the arts.
- Aug 25th – M&M5 at Venice Beach Music Festival – 1:00 pm
- Sept 15th – The Mo Fo Show – Maureen & the Mercury 5 w/Lil Mo & the Unholy 4 Original Mike’s in Santa Ana, CA – 8:00 pm
- Sept 21st – M&M5 at Carrillo Ballroom in Santa Barbara, CA
Best Show: I love EVERYTHING about every show we play, but favorite moments of the band were getting two encores when we opened for DICK DALE, stepping onstage to open for BIG BAD VOODOO DADDY, all the great shows at Downtown Disney, and having lines out the door on the QUEEN MARY. There is nothing like applause and laughter from hundreds of people.
My favorite personal moments include: Getting a $10,000 check for music in the Oscar Winning movie THE DESCENDANTS, Tripping over a napping Stephen Sondheim at INTO THE WOODS rehearsal.
M: Hi, I’m your Sleeping Beauty” SS: I’m sure you are.
Also, giving Lana Dale flowers after opening for her husband DICK DALE at Joe’s Bar in Burbank and having her hug me while he played “AMAZING GRACE. ” Lana whispered to me: “He’s telling me ‘I love you’ — this is what love feels like.”
What advice would you give someone starting out in your field?
YOU ARE ENOUGH. You Be YOU. You can learn from imitating others and you can research and follow trends in music — to know where you can market yourself and strategize your business plan — but find your OWN creative voice and stay true to yourself.
Favorite book, band or movie?
Book: The Food Taster or Jitterbug Perfume (I love time travel – maybe that’s why I’m stuck in the 50’s?)
Current Band?: Maureen & the Mercury 5 of course! but — I definitely LOVE Bonnie Raitt, Chrissy Hynde, the late Amy Winehouse, and Brian Setzer. Also you’ll often find me playing the music of Burt Bacharach and Dusty Springfield. I teach rock music so I love and teach EVERYTHING.
Movie: Breakfast At Tiffany’s — no contest….
What causes do you support?
Musicares Actor’s Fund of America, West Side Food Bank, Venice Beach Music Festival, Arthritis Foundation, Make A Wish Foundation, Project Angel Food APLA
Favorite affirmation, mantra, or quote:
I am enough. Om Namo Guru Dev (thank you divine inner goddess for making me a good human) I am good, but I’m not an angel. I do sin, but I am not the devil. I am just a small girl in a big world trying to find someone to love.
What’s one thing we can do to make the world a better place?
Speak up for what is wrong in the world, and KEEP speaking up. Be good to each other. Before you say or do anything, ask, “IS IT KIND? NECESSARY? TRUE.”
List 1-2 things on your bucket list.
VENICE BUCKET LIST: 1. Seeing my awesome West Side students win Oscars, Grammy’s and Tony’s 🙂 and change the world in a positive way through their music!! 2. Living on the beach again, waking up with the ocean singing! PERSONAL BUCKET LIST: 1. Falling in love, for real, forever! 2. Singing and dancing in Europe again: Tuscany, Berlin, Paris, and then going to Scotland to the Rosalynn Chapel where mysteries in music and art were discovered.
Anything else you want to share about yourself to the world? Fun facts?
- I sing and speak French.
- We were the first rockabilly band I was the first female music director in late night TV history for “After Dark With Julian Clark” at Second City.
- M&M 5’s single, “THE KEEPIN’ KIND” is the show’s theme song.
- I LOVE ballroom dancing but am afraid of waltzing. I don’t get enough time off and sometimes don’t get enough time to put my laundry away. I LOVE fishnet stockings.
Where the beach meets the city, a vacation any time you want one, a community, a tribal meeting place, a place where memories are made, where you can find peace just by watching the ocean waves and feeling the sand in your toes your, where infinity is your friend.
Describe your perfect day in Venice:
Morning jasmine tea from abbot’s habit, walking down to the beach and daydreaming or meditating while watching the waves, working on music or doing computer stuff with the windows open and sunlight streaming in, midday nap in a sunbeam on a blanket on the floor (my favorite childhood pastime), cooking out on the grill, and having friends over for a jam session, watching the sun set on the beach – yeah, it’s cliche but worth it.
List any of your favorite Venice businesses, event(s) or activities:
School of Rock, Time Warp, Abbot’s Habit, Fresh Brothers, I used to love Lilly’s French restaurant, but now it is closed, Hal’s Bar, Acutonix – Dr. Griffin!
Favorite places to watch live music? Hal’s for jazz!
Your favorite Venice bands? Maureen & the Mercury 5! Lou Pine Alfred Johnson Elovay
What is your craziest or fondest Venice experience?
Fondest Venice experience: my boyfriend was having a party at our house off Abbot Kinney and I walked into our bedroom, which lead to our patio ,and Alfred Johnson was playing my favorite Rickie Lee Jones song “COMPANY.” Ifound out — HE WROTE IT, and that started our friendship!
Any shoutouts or thank you’s?
Milton Rosenberg for booking us at the Venice Beach Music Festival, School of Rock Venice & West L.A. for being such cool places for people to learn, Fresh Brothers Pizza for having gluten free choices that keep me alive when I have no time to cook!
Who should Venice Paparazzi cast the spotlight on next?
LOU PINE — lead singer is Ryan Schiff, the School of Rock General Manager too! then ELOVAY — our music director Justin is lead guitarist and former student/voice teacher Alyssa Robertson is on bass!
HOW CAN ONE FIND YOU?